Are businesses that refuse to move forward into modern technologies naive and vulnerable or do they have the upper hand? It is a common assumption that companies that are stubbornly old-fashioned will fall by the wayside to make room for pioneering businesses. In this post, I will be questioning whether this is a fact.
‘Teddy Grays’ is a family run confectioners founded in 1826. They pride themselves on building a business from dated methods and Brummy elbow grease. The employees, from the men that roll the huge sticks of rock to the women that shape the face of the shop floor. All of them say that they feel like they are part of a family. As they feel loved within the company this means that everyone is motivated and loyal, many say that they have been with the company for up to fifty years. I believe this friendly atmosphere is due to their old-school approach to organising people and is the reason for such loyalty. This way of running a business doesn’t stop at the organisation of staff, it runs through the veins of the company. Betty Guest and Ted Gray are the managers of the company. This elderly brother and sister team are determinedly set in their ways. Betty Guest does all the accounting in a big leather-bound book with a trusty blue biro. Her niece admitted that Betty never touches a calculator as she can do all the sums in her head.
However quaint this may seem, I feel that Betty and Ted are wrapping themselves in cotton wool. When asked if they were ever going to modernise, Ted explained how he would never, as he couldn’t think of anything worse than “Coming in in the morning to all those faxes”. The fact he uses the terminology “faxes” speaks volumes. Is ‘Teddy Grays’ refusing to modernise as they believe going against the grain is beneficial to their business? However, it is a probable assumption that they are doing it because of their lack of education on technology gives them no choice.
Refusing to modernise may seem counter-intuitive in regards to business moves however a vintage way of doing things could be seen as a fashionable and refreshing approach. This theory has been proven as generation after generation of nostalgic customers keeps going back to this one sweet shop. Therefore keeping the company alive and kicking. So is it such a mad idea to apply the age old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ to business?